Our Under-19s booked a place in the UEFA Youth League semi-finals after a strong display against Spanish opposition at a sunny Cobham.
The Blues took the lead towards the end of a tight opening half when defender Fran Manzanara could only help an Izzy Brown effort on its way into the net. They then defended strongly throughout the second period to hold the advantage.
In the final minute of normal time, counter-attacking work paid dividends and the competition’s top goalscorer struck as Dominic Solanke found the back of the net to seal the quarter-final victory.
Adi Viveash’s side will now face a last-four meeting against either Manchester City or Roma in Nyon, Switzerland next month.
Viveash made just one change from the side that came from behind to beat Zenit St Petersburg in the last round as Jeremie Boga returned to the team in place of Alex Kiwomya. Campaign ever-presents Ola Aina, Andreas Christensen and captain Izzy Brown all kept their spots in the side.
Boga started in the number 10 role, joining Brown and Tammy Abraham to provide the attacking support for striker Dominic Solanke. Colkett and Christensen anchored in midfield, protecting a back four of Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter and Jay Dasilva. Bradley Collins continued in goal.
Atletico beat Arsenal in their round of 16 tie and finished top in the group stage ahead of Juventus and Olympiacos.
Chances were restricted in the opening 15 minutes as both sides had spells of possession early on. The Blues looked a threat down the right flank and twice threatened through this avenue but Atletico defended the front post strongly as deliveries came in.
Chelsea grew into the tie and fashioned a good move to present Abraham with a sight at goal after Aina had taken Boga’s pass and flighted in a dangerous cross from the right. The forward had positioned himself well but Victor Mendiondo got a foot to the ball and the chance was gone.
Boga struck the first effort at goal from either side after 25 minutes but his free-kick from a central position went high over Carlos Marin’s crossbar. The visitors replied moments later as skipper Andres Mohedano volleyed off target. As a tight, tactical half appeared to be heading towards a stalemate at the interval, the hosts broke the deadlock.
Brown escaped in behind the defence down the left channel. He latched on to a lovely pass from Colkett and diverted it past the keeper and back towards goal. With the ball bouncing and Christensen charging in to make sure, Manzanara got the last touch in his desperate but futile attempt to clear the danger. It goes down as Brown's goal.
The Spaniards restarted brightly but failed to test Collins despite enjoying more time in the opposition half. Brown fired narrowly wide from 25 yards after 20 minutes of second-half action, before the home goalkeeper was required to preserve his side’s slender advantage.
Amath Diedhiou, scorer of Atletico’s solitary goal in their win against Arsenal, found himself in space down the right and fired an effort towards the near post that the goalkeeper did well to push behind with a strong hand. That spurred the visitors on to their strongest period of the game, with substitute Matija Spoljaric’s bouncing effort flying just wide of the post.
Viveash’s boys rode the tough spell with some strong defensive work, bravely dealing with a series of set-pieces and protecting Collins’s goal well. They looked to capitalise on the break and eventually grabbed a crucial second goal in the final minute of normal time. Solanke latched on to Christensen’s forward pass and finished confidently beyond the onrushing Marin for his ninth goal in the competition this term.
Adi Viveash reflected afterwards on a performance that rewarded the hard work his players had put in on the training ground ahead of the tie. Speaking to the official Chelsea website, he said: 'It's a fantastic win for us against a very powerful team. We were giving away two years pretty much all over the pitch so it's a great achievement for us.
'I was really pleased with our preparation. Atletico didn't surprise us; they played exactly how we planned. We'd worked for three days on winning the second balls so that paid off for us because we dealt with that side of the game brilliantly. They put the pressure on us for 20 minutes at the start of the second half but we came through that.
'It was difficult for us all last week, losing three games across the Academy sides, but we said after the Leicester game that all we could do was work harder and that's exactly what we've done. The back four were young but they were excellent and then we have big players producing big moments for the goals in Brown and Solanke.
'We'll look forward to the semi-final against either Man City or Roma now. Our first goal in this competition was to do better than last season and make the last four so that's been achieved but we're on to stage two now and we're going there to win it.'
Our Academy return to cup action next week as Joe Edwards’ Under-18s host Tottenham in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-finals. The tie is being hosted at Stamford Bridge and supporters wishing to attend can purchase tickets online now, priced at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva; Charlie Colkett, Andreas Christensen; Tammy Abraham, Jeremie Boga (Kasey Palmer 77), Izzy Brown (c); Dominic Solanke
Unused subs: Charly Musonda, Jared Thompson, Ruben Sammut, Ike Ugbo, Ali Suljic, Alex Kiwomya
Scorers Brown 38, Solanke 89
Atletico (4-4-2): Carlos Marin; Lucas, Victor Mendiondo (Alberto Rodriguez h/t), Saeid Ezatolahi, Sandro Sakho (Diego Altamirano 85); Roberto Nunez , Fran Manzanara, Amath Diedhiou, Andres Mohedano (c) (Matija Spoljaric 70); Nombo Otia, Tete Morente
Unused subs Guille Perez, Antonio Montoro, Fede Prieto, Diego Gama
Booked Otia, Rodriguez
By Sam Poplett
Highlights of the game are on Chelsea TV at 11pm today (Tuesday)